Every release of Beam’s Little Book feels like it’s going to be the last one. Chapter 6 of the book was “To The Finish,” but now we have “In Retrospect.” What, one may ask, have we learned in the last 7 years?
Never a whiskey that has shied away from complexity, this release is a blend of 7 different whiskeys, including bourbon, rye, and malt whiskey ranging from 4 years old to 18 years old. Six of these were individual components in the previous six editions of Little Book, plus an added seventh expression. Most of these ingredients are however straightforward save for the malt, which is a 5 year old finished in applewood smoked barrels. Proportions of the blend are not disclosed.
As always, this is a whiskey that defies expectations, and if you like strange whiskeys, you’ll love Little Book 7. On the nose, the whiskey is sweet, almost candylike, with a strong Bit-O-Honey quality paired with notes of toasted marshmallow, barrel char, and furniture polish. Next to last year’s Little Book, which featured nothing more than 5 years old, this eventually comes across like a grand old dame, sitting in a rocking chair with a cat on her lap. The sense (and scents) of lumberyard, old furniture, and some camphor only grow with time in glass.
On the palate, that sweetness that marks the nose is instant — again a mix of honey and brown sugar, chased with caramel and butterscotch. A combination of peanut sauce and red raspberries makes for an unusual second act, with toasted nuts and a gentle layer of chimney smoke atop grindings of black pepper, cloves, and some syrupy malt notes. Very chewy on he finish, the whiskey eventually evokes notes of brown butter against a slightly mushroomy backdrop.
As always, it’s a strange and exotic whiskey from the Little Book crew, one which will doubtlessly be as divisive as it is conversation-provoking.
B+ / $150 / jimbeam.com